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A Randomised Controlled Trial of Inhibitory Control Training for Smoking Cessation: Outcomes, Mediators and Methodological Considerations

journal contribution
posted on 2021-11-03, 00:00 authored by Laura HughesLaura Hughes, Melissa HaydenMelissa Hayden, J Bos, N S Lawrence, George Youssef, R Borland, Petra StaigerPetra Staiger
Objective: Inhibitory control training (ICT) has shown promise for improving health behaviours, however, less is known about its mediators of effectiveness. The current paper reports whether ICT reduces smoking-related outcomes such as craving and nicotine dependence, increases motivation to quit and whether reductions in smoking or craving are mediated by response inhibition or a devaluation of smoking stimuli.Method: Adult smokers (minimum 10 cigarettes per day; N = 107, Mage = 46.15 years, 57 female) were randomly allocated to receive 14 days of smoking-specific ICT (named INST; a go/no-go task where participants were trained to not respond to smoking stimuli) or active control training (participants inhibited responding toward neutral stimuli). Participants were followed up to 3-months post-intervention. This trial was preregistered (Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ID: ACTRN12617000252314; URL: There were no significant differences between ICT and active control training groups. Specifically, participants in both groups showed significant reductions in craving, nicotine dependence, motivation and a devaluation (reduced evaluation) of smoking-stimuli up to 3-months follow-up compared to baseline. Inhibition and devaluation of smoking stimuli did not act as mediators. Devaluation of smoking stimuli was an independent predictor of smoking and craving at follow-up.Conclusion: Inhibitory control training (ICT) was no more effective at reducing smoking-related outcomes compared to the active control group, however, significant improvements in craving, dependence indicators and evaluation of smoking stimuli were observed across both groups. A return to basic experimental research may be required to understand the most effective ICT approach to support smoking cessation.



Frontiers in Psychology



Article number

ARTN 759270


1 - 9


Frontiers / Frontiers Media / Frontiers Research Foundation


Lausanne, Switzerland







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal